2006 UW Women's Tennis Outlook
Jan. 19, 2006
The 2005-2006 season marks the beginning of a new era in Husky women'stennis. Jill Hultquist, who was an assistant coach at Washington from1997-2002, begins her first season as head coach this year.
Hultquist might be new to the head coaching ranks, but she is familiar withthis Husky program after serving as an assistant under former head coachPatty McCain for five years.
Hultquist will have her share of challenges in her first season at the helm,but she inherits a team that has advanced to the NCAA Tournament the lasteight consecutive seasons and reached at least the regional final the lastfive years.
Hultquist's top challenge will be replacing graduated senior Dea Sumantri.Sumantri finished her career as a two-time All-American and second onWashington's career singles wins list with 100 victories. Her presence willbe missed in both the singles and doubles lineups.
'Dea was definitely a big asset to the team and she had great results,'Hultquist said.
To off-set Sumantri's departure will be senior Dinka Hadzic, the Huskies'top returning player. Hadzic, known for her gritty play and never-say-dieattitude, will be looked upon to lead the team on and off the court. It¹s arole Hultquist thinks Hadzic is ready for.
'Dinka is a senior now and she's a very talented player,' Hultquist said.'I think it's up to Dinka to decide what she wants out of her senior yearbecause she has the ability to really lead this team and integrate thingslike Dea did.'
The rest of the Washington squad is relatively young, considering twosophomores round out the squad's top-three players. Sophomores Tara Simpsonand Allison Rainey look to build upon solid rookie campaigns.
Hultquist will also lean on the experience provided by senior StephanieSvanfeldt and junior Monika Kolbovic, both players who should see increasedplaying time this year.
Rounding out the roster are two freshmen, walk-on Melinda Wong from Seattleand Victoria Brymer who joined the team at the beginning of January.
Hultquist is impressed thus far with her team's effort and work ethic whichwill be a key for the Huskies' success this year.
'They want to work hard to develop their individual games, and at the sametime work together to be successful as a team,' Hultquist said. 'It's beengreat to come in and watch these girls get along and work so well together.'
Another asset to the team has been the addition of former UW All-AmericanClaire Carter to the coaching staff. Carter took on the assistant coachingduties shortly after Hultquist was named head coach.
Carter, arguably the most decorated player to graduate from the program,owns the distinction of being UW's only four-time All-American. Carter'sindividual success as a letterwinner from 2001-2004 helped put Husky tennison the national scene, her play leading Washington to a pair of NCAA EliteEight appearances in 2001 and 2004.
Just one year removed from being a player herself, Carter's presence helpssmooth the transition between head coaches as a former teammate of some ofthe current Huskies. Her knowledge of the team helps bridge the three-yeargap since Hultquist was last with the program.
'Claire has been a great asset to the team and to the coaching staff becauseshe played with some of these girls,' Hultquist said. 'As a player comingto the coaching side, she's really stepped up as a coach. All of theplayers respect her. Many coaches don't like to hire former players who arejust out of college a few years, but for us it's worked really well. Ourplayers respect the fact that Claire was an All-American and had a greatwork ethic during her Husky career.'
The PlayersAlthough it's a bit too early for Hultquist to determine her lineup justyet, Hadzic will undoubtedly play at the top for the Huskies.
Hadzic culminated last year with a ranking of No. 96 as the team's No. 2singles player for the majority of the season.
Hadzic earned All-Pac-10 honorable mention honors despite being slowed by aninjury halfway through the dual season and finishing the year winning justtwo of her last 10 matches.
She finished the year with a 17-16 singles record including a 10-11 dualmark. A healthy Hadzic this year should do that much better in her seniorcampaign.
'Dinka is very fiery,' Hultquist said. 'She's got a fiery personality and alot of burning desire to win. She just digs really deep.'
The next two players who might occupy the No. 2 and No. 3 spots in thelineup are Simpson and Rainey.
Simpson emerged as Washington's top newcomer last year, finishing second onthe team with 24 victories (24-11 overall) and tied for the team lead with17 dual wins (17-6 overall).
Simpson played anywhere from No. 4 through No. 6 in the lineup, but wasprimarily UW¹s No. 5 player compiling an 11-3 record at that spot.
'Tara is going to be one of those girls that you just want to watch,'Hultquist said. 'She's going to grind out matches for you. They're goingto be long but she will try her best for every point. She's a hustler andis going to win a lot of matches for us.'
Rainey is another player who had an impressive rookie outing, going 19-13 insingles, 15-7 in dual play. Rainey played primarily in the No. 5 and No. 6spots in the lineup last year, going 6-2 at No. 5 and 8-5 at No. 6.
'Allison is working hard this year,' Hultquist said. 'She has a big servewhen she uses it. She's scrappy. She'll just fight to the end if there's apoint on the line.'
The other four Huskies, Svanfeldt, Kolbovic, Wong and Brymer will also bebattling for spots in the starting six.
Svanfeldt saw some time in the singles lineup last year, recording a 6-3record at the No. 6 spot. She went 9-9 overall.
'Stephanie's a very hard worker and she has that burning desire that Dinkahas,' Hultquist said. 'She's always trying to learn more. You tell her onething, she wants to do it and wants to take it one step further.'
Kolbovic turned in a singles record of 2-6 but didn't appear in the duallineup last year. That could change in her junior campaign.
'Monika has a great attitude, she's always very positive,' Hultquist said.'She wants to work hard and has a great heart. She's just a go-getter.'
Wong and Brymer are the two newcomers and with such a small roster, willundoubtedly make an impact on the squad in their rookie seasons.
Brymer, from Apple Valley, Calif., was ranked 15th in the nation when she signed her letter of intent at Washington. She was also a top-five player in Southern California U-14, U-16 and U-18 rankings.
'Victoria is hard working and determined,' Hultquist said. 'She's anxious to start competing for the Huskies.'
Wong is a local product from West Seattle High School. She joined the teamas a walk-on this fall and has already impressed Hultquist with heroutstanding work ethic.
'Melinda puts as much effort into her play as a scholarship player,'Hultquist said. 'She works hard, hits the ball very hard and if she worksher way into the lineup she's going to give it everything she has.'
The doubles combinations are still yet to be set in stone. Hadzic combinedwith Sumantri as the team's No. 1 doubles duo last year, finishing the yearranked 46th.
According to Hultquist, this year's top team will most likely be Hadzic andSimpson, who played together at the ITA All-American Championships duringthe fall. The other two spots in the lineup are still up in the air. Anyof the remaining five players could battle for a spot.
The ScheduleAs is usually the case, the Huskies will have a difficult schedule when theytake to the courts in January.
The first thing Husky fans might notice when looking at this year's slate isthat for the first time since 1993, UW will not host the Pac-10 IndoorChampionships. Instead, Washington will open the season in Hawaii at the Wailea Classic. The three-day event is a round-robin style individual tournament against players from Oregon and Sacramento State.
After returning from the Hawaiian islands, the Huskies will play their firsteight dual matches at home beginning with a contest versus BYU, Saturday,Jan. 21. Non-conference home opponents during that stretch also includePortland, New Mexico, San Diego State and San Diego.
UW will have the luxury of playing Pac-10 duals against Cal and Stanford athome. The Huskies don't return to the road until March 10-11 when theyface USC and UCLA in Los Angeles.
In fact, the Huskies only take two trips outside of the Pacific Northwest.
In addition to its trip to Southern California, Washington will travel to thestate of Texas to face the University of Texas (April 1) and TCU (April 2).
At Texas, Husky players will face their former coach Patty McCain, whileHultquist will coach against her good friend after coaching side-by-side forfive years. McCain left Washington after eight years at the helm of theprogram following the 2005 season.
'There were some close ties with Patty so that match might be a littleemotional for the girls,' Hultquist said. 'At the same time it will be funto see Patty again and see what kind of team she has. She can also see howWashington is doing.'
After UW's Texas trip, the Huskies come back to host four-straight includingPac-10 duals against Arizona and Arizona State, and non-conference contestsversus South Alabama and Sacramento State.
UW finishes the regular season at Washington State (April 21).
'The Pac-10 keeps getting stronger and stronger,' Hultquist said. 'It's agreat conference to be in. We're now competitive and when Patty and I first took over we weren't. Washington is now a force to be reckoned with and it's nice to have that respect back.'